It’s summer holiday time and amidst the chaos of cancelled flights and airport anarchy, many of us have decided that a staycation is a more restful option than vibrating through Heathrow powered by sheer stress.
A lot of us found a new appreciation for wild places when the most stimulating possible daily recreation was a long walk - and the UK is bursting with exquisite places to explore.
Whether you’re after the thrill of scaling a mountain or the refreshing solace of the sea, below is a round up of some of the most breathtaking beauty spots the UK has to offer. I’ve been to all but one of them, so I can personally vouch for their splendour and am delighted to share them with you.
While awe-inspiring scenery is a given, we will just have to cross our fingers for the sunshine.
Isle of Skye, Scotland
An unsullied natural paradise festooned with azure fairy pools, rugged coastline and waterfalls cascading into the sea. It’s a truly magical place and I’m desperate to go this year.
Where to stay: There are eco cabins dotted around the Isle in perfect solitude so you can truly get away from it all and recharge your batteries in the splendour of the great outdoors. It’s also legal to wild camp on Skye if you really want to embed yourself in the landscape.
Mount Snowdon, North Wales
Mount Snowden is a climb which delivers awe inspiring views from start to summit and is perfectly achievable for anyone with moderate fitness and the desire to walk for 7 hours. We recommend getting the Sherpa bus to the Pen-y-Pass Car Park and climbing the miners track. Don’t forget your sandwiches because the cafe at the summit is currently closed!
If you’re not one for strenuous exercise, you can also take the mountain railway ¾ of the way up. The trains are ADORABLE.
Where to stay: We recommend staying in Llanberis at the foot of Snowden. Dolofan Guest House is stunning and only a few 100 metres from the mountain railway.
Dartmoor National Park, Devon
Being a Devonian, I am slightly biassed when I say it’s the most beautiful county in the UK but… it is. Dartmoor national park is sprawling, breathtakingly dramatic and has bonus ponies.
We recommend visiting some of the Tors (Haytor is the most popular and accessible), Spitchwick for some wild swimming and Wistmans Woods. Oh, and the pubs are to die for. We recommend The Warren House Inn whose fire has been burning since 1845.
Where to stay: Lustleigh is one of the prettiest villages in Dartmoor and the Eastwrey Barton Country House is a Georgian gem.
The Peak District, Yorkshire
My new(ish) adopted home is chronically underrated Sheffield which is a stone's throw away from the Peak District. There are so many magnificent hikes that it’s really hard to choose a recommendation, but if you do one walk, make it Stanage Edge. It will blow your socks off.
In terms of quaint towns and villages — take a trip to Bakewell, Eyam the plague village (yes, really, it’s a fascinating story) and Hathersage.
Where to stay: We recommend staying in Hathersage for easy access to incredible walking paths balanced with a decent crop of pubs and restaurants. There’s an amazing fish and chip shop too!
Durdle Door, Dorset
Durdle Door on the Jurassic coast is the sort of craggy atmospheric coastline that the UK does best! With unique rock formations and a splendid walk up the cliffs to view the almost perfectly circular cove from above, Durdle Door is a real treasure.
The shingle beach and sheltered cove make it perfect for swimming in the crystal clear water without getting sandy feet. Bonus!
Where to stay: Stay in nearby Weymouth for the seaside town experience. The Grade II listed Royal Weymouth hotel has all of the glory of a Victorian coastal palace and you can take your dog.
The Long Mynd, Suffolk
The rolling Suffolk hills are an oft-forgotten area of the UK and The Long Mynd is the mysterious jewel in its crown. This moorland plateau is an area of outstanding natural beauty and a paradise for wild swimming.
The Long Mynd is almost otherworldly with its ponies and rounded domed hills which look like something from another planet
Where to stay: Church Stretton was nicknamed little Switzerland in the Victorian period thanks to its almost alpine landscape and its simply gorgeous. Victoria house is quaint, charming and has a lovely restaurant.
Cornwall holds horrifying childhood memories of endless car journeys on congested roads to get bored in crap caravans, but despite this lingering trauma, Porthcurno gets a mention!
On a sunny day, Porthcurno could get away with being the mediterranean with its shimmering turquoise water and sandy beaches. The ridiculously picturesque Minak open air theatre is such a dreamy fantasy, you have to pinch yourself to believe it’s real.
Where to stay: Not in a crap caravan! 7.5 miles away in the just as beautiful Penzance is The Artists Residence, a colourfully haven of wholesome relaxation. You’ll love it.
Seven Sisters White Cliffs, Sussex
I was absolutely shooketh when I discovered somewhere so stunning, so close to London (where I spent lockdown) and I just had to share it! The monumental pure white Seven Sisters cliffs and the surrounding beaches are a far cry from their Tottenham counterpart and —when I went— relatively quiet.
East Cowes, Isle of Wight
Home of Queen Victoria's beloved Osbourne, East Cowes is a real Isle of Wight beauty spot and you get to take a ferry there so it feels like you’re really going on holiday.
This pretty seaside town is a great place to leisurely explore and the Isle of Wight is so compact you can legitimately walk the entire coastline in 4 or 5 days. An extremely satisfying pursuit.
Where to stay: Albert’s Dairy cottage is pristine, away from the hustle and bustle of town, but close enough to stroll into the action. What more do you want?